Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Beamed into your living room

MCSN Devin Wray

In a previous post I mentioned how U.S. Navy ships not only have websites, but are connecting those sites to Facebook.  These connections come in the form of Facebook Fan Pages.  This blog is linked to Facebook, and I get much more interactivity with my readers there than here. (comments left on posts, for example)

MCSN Devin Wray, my buddy from bootcamp and the source of  the "I Am Your Eyes" line, is a forward thinker.  He's got some innovative ideas concerning military Public Affairs.  I won't spill the beans on anything here, sorry.

Posting videos on Facebook Fan Pages isn't new, but it's new to the military.  Wray just posted a DNU, or Daily News Update, on his ship's Fan Page.  Check out the link below to watch the video.  But more importantly, read the comments.  Families post on how grateful they are to see what life is like for their son/daughter, a veteran follows his ship's activities, and an OPSEC issue is quickly resolved.

That last one was really cool to see.  Operational Security has always been important, but with the arrival of social media, it's more crucial than ever.  The risk of a breach goes up as more and more people post their every thought online.  OPSEC even has it's own Facebook page.

Alright I'm about to miss chow.  I need to go eat.  Here's the link.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Liberty! (Six Flags)

This, as well as the upcoming post, is part of my ongoing quest to give future DINFOS students a list of fun stuff to do in the area.  Many Sailors end up at Busch Gardens because it's free to the military.  That's all good, but Six Flags is only an hour away (compared to 3) and has more rides than BG. Michelle and I recently stormed the amusement park and conquered every one of its menacing roller coasters.  Our longest wait for a ride?  Twenty minutes.  This was thanks in part to the Flash Pass, an electronic pager that allows you to reserve ride times and show up when your seat is ready.  Other parks have similar items but this one received the best review online.  Totally worth the extra dough.
I don't have a lot of exciting photos, but here's a good one of the drop on one of the coasters.  The drop is on the far side.  Yeah, it's almost 90 degrees.  Here we're touring the park on an easy train ride.
There were staff members everywhere.  I think I was asking this guy about wearing shoes on water rides.  We forgot our flip flops.
I wasn't able to blog at the time because the person above hogged the laptop.  You wouldn't have the heart to take it away either.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The world awaits

MC1 Ballge (foreground) and MC1 Miller take the time to speak to each student, giving them words of encouragement.

The most recent force of DINFOS trained killers just graduated to teary eyes and proud smiles.  Class "I forget their number" represented the last group that I had a real connection to.  Being a 'C' schooler is like living forever.  Friends come and go but you never leave.  /sob

I'll be fine guys, you just go.

Hernandez suddenly realizes she doesn't have to do homework anymore. (never say never)

MC 'A' school is 6 months long, but it goes fast.  I suspect in a few months many will wish to be back in the comfortable air-conditioned world of DINFOS.  lol

Students from all sorts of classes show up to congratulate the victors.

Graduation is a whirlwind.  It happens fast and then everyone's gone even faster.  Usually, they head out on leave the same day.  Some head straight out to their next duty station.

MC1 Vernon does his "extra guy in the photo" impersonation behind us.  I think it works.

Carey, excuse me, MCSN Marty Carey, was the day's honor graduate.  He had the highest overall grade for all the courses, and will receive an automatic promotion to E-4.

Good job nerd!


Very shortly, Chief Carter will be leaving for Afghanistan.  He's been the heart and soul of the Navy barracks since well before I came around.

Chief, I've saved to memory many things you've said.  "Attack your weaknesses" is probably my favorite one.  Through personal examples, you've shown the students here the importance of motivation, hard work, and good attitude.  Thank you for everything!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Squinting through the glass eye

Shaver, a welder before enlisting in the Army, gets to know her camera.

The great thing about studying photo/video is there's lots of hands-on.  I can only learn so much by listening.  Like many in the class, I have to do...and do...and do again til I get good at it.

There's a lot of get-to-know-you going on between human and camera.  Some pairs are like long lost friends.  Others are more like mortal enemies.

My Nalgene bottle has been to the ends of the Earth with me.  I sure love that little guy. 
For the students with no video experience, every day brings a new challenge.  I think the biggest one is operating everything on manual.  Manual focus, manual exposure, manual zoom. The instructors want us to know how the camera works from the ground up.  Knowing this doesn't make trying to focus manually any less painful.

Sergeant First Class Medina, our lead instructor, checks a student's camera for malfunctions.

The instructors go through a brief demonstration and then set us loose to practice.  There's a lot of trial and error going on in the DINFOS hallways these days.

Every new shot must be slated with project information such as date, location, and camera operator.

Everyone's working together well, and the Soldiers and Marines only make fun of each other 3-5 times a day.

Just a quick update:

So my Followers section is still blank, and apparently Google needs to collect enough reports before they will act. There's no tech support contact, but hey the software's free so I'm not complaining. :)

Click the Facebook link on the left to join up there!

Below is a quote from one of the threads I've been posting the issue on.

"We've started to see a number of reports of the Google Friends Connect/Followers not displaying. If this is affecting you, can you please leave the following details.

1) Your Blog Link
2) Which Browsers does it NOT display in? eg Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera
3) Which Browsers does it display correctly in? eg Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera
4) Has it ever displayed?

Once we get enough reports the Google Engineers can start to debug this issue."

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Disaster blogs and a Tweet

BP CEO Tony Hayward, photo courtesy of

Americans are now faced with one of the (if not THE) worst environmental disasters in U.S. history.  It's pretty scary.  If you haven't stopped to think about the repercussions, sit down before you do.

Tony Hayward, BP's CEO, is answering questions from lawmakers as I type.  It's been compared to a public execution.  As he absorbs the assault, bloggers everywhere are blogging live.  Roughly every 15 minutes, a writer from the below examples uploads a new post.

 Field Notes MSNBC

     -Its author is a flavorful story teller.  I find his the easiest to read. (example below)

 Happening Now - Fox

     -This seems to have stopped at 1 pm, when the show ended.

Live Blog - CBS

     -No snappy name?

BP America - BP's Twitter page

     -Their Tweets have a little different tone than the above blog posts.

Here's MSNBC's blogger, Alex Johnson:


UPDATE 3:33 p.m. ET: A Republican gets off the toughest zinger of the day. Noting that Hayward over and over responds by saying he can't respond because he's not an engineer or because investigations aren't complete, Rep. Cliff Stearns of Florida asks:

"Is today Thursday?"

Hayward, stone-faced, replies: "Today is Thursday."


Ladies & Gentlemen, this is social media. 

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tending the flock

Today, my day was a little bit longer than usual as I was ACDO, or Assistant Command Duty Officer for the Navy detachment.  It's not as big of a deal as it sounds.  The 'C' schoolers rotate which means I stand duty 2-3 times a month.

The CDO is a Navy staff member, usually an instructor, who spends the night at the detachment to keep an eye on things.  My job is to cover until he/she arrives in the early evening.  I'm around to let students in their rooms when they lock themselves out.  I'm also the first contact in case of an emergency.

While I may not be doing anything important in that photo, I'm poised to spring into action...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

So you wanna be famous? (C School)

Jackson has it rough on Radio Row doesn't he?

Let's be honest, who hasn't wondered what it'd be like to see their face plastered on a big screen for the world to appreciate?  Or maybe you think your voice should be carried over the airwaves to caress the drums of a thousand ears?

Students from every branch get their chance in BCC, or Basic Combat Correspondent course.  It may not be Hollywood, but in my humble opinion, it's the most interesting course here.  I've got some Navy buddies in there and they're getting voice lessons, as well as learning radio, tv, and video.  Many will end up at AFN stations around the world.

Here's a project the current class did during their Field Training Exercise.  I'll try to post some more pics showing what they do.

Today, I caught Airman Frazee working on a "stand up" out in the hallway.  Stand ups involve standing in front of the camera, reporting a news item.  She had to set up the video, lighting, and sound herself.  You can see the light just behind the camera.  Here she is attaching a script to read from.  This is about the only time Frazee smiled.  It seemed kind of stressful. :)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Call to arms

Me in the Navy detachment's TV room, giving my blog pep talk.
 Photos by SN Corey Hensley

First of all, I was out of town this weekend...a mini-vacation of sorts.  I plan on posting about it but I'm waiting on a photo from the Six Flags website to lead in with.  They want to charge me $30 to download it when I already paid $10 for the print at the park.  I'm pulling the military card and trying to get it free.

And there's all sorts of other stuff I want to post on.  It's hard to keep up when almost every day brings something interesting to talk about.  (especially with school work and PT)


As many of you know, when I graduated from 'A' school, I worked with Asato to set up a new blog that will stay in the hands of 'A' schoolers.  It will be handed down from class to class as a way to inform as well as improve MC skills.

It's not easy, but we're making progress.  Yesterday, Asato and I had a meeting to bring new students into the blog loop.  We've got solid interest, with several signed up to turn in some good stories.  I'm acting as a sort of consultant/cheerleader.  The goal is to have a few motivated Sailors step up and run with it.

Many great ideas were offered by those in attendance.  Asato (white shirt) and Hwang talk ideas in the back row.

Their blog is at  Please stop by and show your support.  Believe me, it means a lot to them.  I know Asato feels like no one is really reading it.  Sign up to follow, and give a shout-out through a post's comment link. :)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Tubin down the river

Photos by everyone involved

This past Sunday Melkus, Raegen, Lobao, Asato, and yours truly went tubing down the Potomac River.  For those of you who haven't tried it, go soon!

Butts Tubes was our destination, as it was recommended to me by Tom, the Sandy Point park ranger.  (more on that in a coming post)  We each paid $44, which gave us a choice of flatwater or Class I & II rapids, and a cooler to pull behind us in its own raft.  We never tried the flatwater as the rapids were just right. 

You basically show up, sign a waiver, pick up your tickets (if you reserved them), get the cooler/ice, and go wait for the next bus to pick you up.  The buses come every 30 minutes and shuttle you up and down the river.

The water was only a little cold.  When we hit the rapids, some squealed as the water splashed sun-warmed skin.  It wasn't me, though.  It wasn't.

Raegen posed about five times for me to get this shot.  It's not easy using a crappy Target underwater camera to shoot while you're floating, for some reason, at a completely different speed than your subject.

When you go, pay special attention when the guide tells you where to get OUT of the river.  He told us to watch for the red bridge.  "Don't pass the red bridge!" he said.  Well there's no sign to get out and the bridge doesn't really look red.  More like rust.  And there's several bridges close together.  If you wait too long to start swimming to shore, it becomes a tough fight against a strong current.

There are rocks in the center of the river that everyone stops and hangs out on.  Melkus was scared to make the massive plunge alone so Asato and I, being good shipmates, abandoned rock with him.

You're actually glad to see these school buses.  Especially after a 2-hour tube ride, and a long hike up to the top to catch the ride back.

I'm in the process of reworking the post labels on the left.  I want to have a collection of posts/reviews that can be labeled "Fort Meade Things To Do".  That way, other students can come here and take a look.  This is a great area with so much to offer, but many have no clue.